Book Review, Two Tickets to Dubrovnik by Angus Kennedy
I’ve read good books and poor books, but Two Tickets to Dubrovnik was worse than the poorest book I can remember.
I had to force myself to continue reading, thinking that at the end or near it the story would redeem itself. But this 2012 self-published by the author at Xlibiris Corporation, www.Xlibiris, never delivered either a satisfactory ending or an engaging tale.
Xlibiris is one of many businesses that for a fee will publish your book. I will not criticize the company except to say I think someone should have been more honest with the writer, Augus Kennedy, a retired sugar refining and winemaking worker -- no title or detail of what he did given -- who is a native of an lives in South Australia.
I will say of Xlibiris, which I think is from a Greek word meaning “book,” may have damaged its own reputation among potential customers, writers, or readers who use a publisher’s reputation as one gauge of how a book will be.
Dolores suggested I read it, since winemaking is supposed to be a point of interest in the story, and we enjoy a nice, moderately priced bottle in our sofa evenings of not watching the turned-on TV. But I found very little about winemaking, and almost less about the plot itself that would have drawn me to the book. (It was sent to me by a publicist of Xlibiris for review.)
I know companies need to save money to profit or survive these days, but I found the print extending too far down the 126 pages, giving it a kind of boring, difficult to read appearance. This problem -- at least it is in my view -- would probably turn me away should I be an author looking for a self-publisher. The cover photo and quality of the cover paper was fine.
I should here explain the little I understand about publishing companies; many publishers are owned by the same corporations, which greatly limits the publishers to which a writer can submit material in my view. If one publisher of this corporation turns me down, will not the others also do likewise? They are supplementing each other for income, not competing, in my understanding.
Because of this limit on the number of publishers, self-publishing has become popular. The problem is that while a “regular” publisher won’t hesitate to turn a manuscript down because they don’t feel it will sell sufficiently to turn a profit or for any other reason such as poor writing, self-publishers, I understand, will accept almost any manuscript that is accompanied by the stipulated price for publishing it.
On the other hand, I know of three self-published books that were picked up by “regular” publishers after the number of sales was substantial.
A last comment about publishers is that with a self-publisher, the writer keeps the rights to the work so can sell it to another company, while a “regular” publisher retains all the rights so the writer basically loses control of his or her manuscript.
Most of the text of Two Tickets to Dubrovnik is a travelogue, in my opinion, which I might find interesting if I knew anything about Dubrovnik, a city in Croatia, or if I were planning to travel there. I’m not, so I found the detailed travel stories, which are part of the plot somehow, boring. I did find some of the ancient history a bit interesting, but not enough to compel me to shell out any money for it. (The price is not given in the book.)
I found a couple of sites online about the book, one of which listed the price as $32.09 for the softcover version and $427 as an E-book.
I suspect this “fiction” story actually leans pretty hard on events experienced by the writer. Most of our lives are not dramatic, and neither is the plot of this tale. It basically tells of a man from Australia who visits Dubrovnik to write a review on wines.
(The wines about which he writes are likely not from Dubrovnik, although the book doesn’t say.) While in this city, he meets a young woman, who attracts him and with whom he has a light relationship, the most romantic of which is a boat trip to and a picnic on an island. She has a brother, who is in some kind of trouble, so the police twice interview our Australian wine-writing hero. We never learn what the brother is accused or suspected of, only that he goes to jail for some time the length of which incarceration is not told. The heroine becomes angry with the wine-writing guy, and the story kind of ends there unceremoniously.
Based on the ending, I would call the book a tragedy, since tragedies have unhappy endings.
The lead (reader-grabber in my description of lead sentences) is okay, “It was three weeks before I got around to having a look at the piece of blue paper that was sitting under the base of the bedside lamp.”
Somewhere in the book is a sentence or two explaining the importance of the paper, which holds two tickets to, if I remember and as the title indicates Dubrovnik. I found no other reference to the two tickets, although maybe I was napping when I read a section linking them with the tale.
Feeling a bit sorry for the author, who is retired so must have a retirement income so not really need income from his book, I’d have to say to him were he still working, “Don’t quit your day job.”
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at email@example.com.
Milton M. Gross Copyright 2013